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Author Topic: [Dogs] What are the demons for?  (Read 7310 times)
lumpley
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« Reply #15 on: October 06, 2009, 11:52:28 AM »

Perfect.

Now if you wanted to make the town worse, turn it inward and more vicious, instead of letting it just split up  and scatter that way, what would you do? Ultimately you want someone to cross a line, to do something rash, wrong, and irrevocable - but still understandable and even, in its way, sympathetic - so keep that in mind, but let's take little steps.

The book says that right now the demons want (a) the sin to become habitual, (b) the sin to escalate, and/or (c) someone else to sin in answer to the existing sin.

What if it comes into Jackson's head that, hell, he pays for sex with Sheila, why can't he pay for sex with Bethany too?

Roberts is willing and able to beat August, obviously. What would it take to make him willing and able to beat Obedience?

August doesn't have it in him to turn on his father, only to run away, even when his father beats him. What would it take to give August the will to vengeance? (If Roberts beat Bethany, would that do it?)

Marilla isn't happy with Phineas. How bad would it have to get before she'd leave him?

Phineas wouldn't, now and as written, respond to an advance from Ana, that's obvious. What would it take for her to seduce him? What would she have to do, or hold over him? What if she pretended to be Marilla in the dark?

Any thoughts?

-Vincent
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Simon C
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« Reply #16 on: October 06, 2009, 12:46:41 PM »

Cool, I see what you're doing with this.

Roberts beating Bethany, and August killing him for that seems the most plausible of those scenarios.  In play, Roberts was the kind of guy who's extra vigilant of everyone else, because he's prone to straying himself.  Someone who's extra pious to make up for not being born to the faith.  I can definitely see him beating Bethany.  August is a young man in love, and convinced that if he doesn't marry Bethany, that makes him a sinner for sleeping with her.  He'd absolutely be capable of killing, especially in the heat of the moment.

Phineas' pride is in his faith, and in the town.  He thinks it's stronger than it is.  I'm not sure he'd ever be seduced, unless it was by trickery, as you suggest.  I'm not sure what Ana's motive would be for that though.

I can see Obedience killing Sheila, too, to bring Jackson back to her.  I can see Marilla condoning that killing also. 

I'm not sure how to get Corrupt Worship and Sorcery in there though.  Maybe Roberts decides it's right for him to maintain the spiritual purity of his family by force? So he beats August to keep him away from Bethany, and beats Obedience to stop her from going to Jackson, who he sees as a corrupted sinner.  Who's with him on this? His wife? That's possible.  Maybe August and Obedience accept that he has the right to do that?
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lumpley
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« Reply #17 on: October 07, 2009, 04:53:24 AM »

Oh that's interesting. Know who might really like that belief? Marilla.

You can think of false doctrine as an excuse with a promotion. It lets somebody off the hook for their failure, or justifies bad behavior, or shifts the blame to somebody else.  "A father should keep his family pure, even by force" is a great example.

So my vote for a cult would be Roberts, Obedience and Marilla. Roberts and Obedience are bad cop / good cop on August, whom they're holding against his will. (I have an image of her bringing him water, stroking his hair, telling him to stop fighting and let his wickedness go, deep down scared to death that their father is going to turn on her.) Marilla is trying to bring Phineas around, she thinks that Phineas can beat Jackson back into line. What do you think?

-Vincent
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Simon C
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« Reply #18 on: October 07, 2009, 10:24:05 AM »

Yeah, I can see that working.  I like that take on Obedience as well.
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lumpley
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« Reply #19 on: October 08, 2009, 08:58:59 AM »

Cool. So we've got Marilla coming out to Roberts' behind Phineas' back, or against his will, to worship with Roberts' family. We've got August tied to a post in the root cellar, beaten to crap. We've got Marilla pressuring Phineas to do the same to Jackson. We've got Bethany ... what? Recovering from her beating in Phineas' house, still hoping to rescue August, marry him and convert? Jackson's still running after Sheila and Marilla still hates having Ana in her home.

To make this as bad as it can possibly be, who has to die?

What's important about the demons isn't their supernaturality, but their malice. (I expect you've noticed this.) They exist to get you to think about how things can go worse, not to think about how they can go oogy-boogy.

So who do you think? August looks pretty likely, doesn't he? Jackson doesn't mean to kill him, but how much punishment can the kid take?

If Roberts beats August to death, the Dogs arrive to him torn and cracking - he murdered his son, but now his son's pure and in heaven, but he murdered him, but for his son's good, but he murdered him. He wants the Dogs to tell him that he did the right thing and that everything's okay, and he's going to erupt if they tell him anything else. (Can they redeem him? They still could, just maybe. Will they?)

Obedience ... If it were me, here's where Obedience would find the coldness in her heart. There's no future siding with her dead brother, so she does the math and becomes her father's absolute ally and defender. If August had to die to be made pure, so be it. She wants the Dogs to beat Jackson pure in turn so that he'll come back to her and marry her. How much fun will it be if the Dogs come and Jackson's the sorcerer, but obviously in torment, and sweet little Obedience is just his follower, but this horror has burned her conscience out of her? Answer: probably a lot of fun.

Marilla's not touched by the tragedy in the same way. She thinks that if Phineas only takes Jackson well in hand, Jackson will repent sooner. If pressed, she may allow as how Roberts went to far, but she still thinks his philosophy was sound. She wants what Obedience wants.

August isn't the only possible murder victim, though. Bethany has tremendous promise - what if Roberts decides that the object of his son's lust has to die before his son's lust will? What if he murders her just before Phineas converts her, or just after he does? Good stuff.

So! Seem good? Do you have other thoughts about who has to die? Do you see it going a different way with anybody, Roberts or Obedience or anybody?

-Vincent
« Last Edit: October 08, 2009, 09:04:16 AM by lumpley » Logged
Simon C
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« Reply #20 on: October 08, 2009, 10:41:56 AM »

That sounds really cool, Vincent.  I can see how that introduces murder and sorcery without reducing the moral complexity too much. 

How would this town differ if we were playing with more supernatural stuff?
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lumpley
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« Reply #21 on: October 13, 2009, 09:37:15 AM »

Okay!

Up to this moment, the town wouldn't differ in a single detail. You create a high-supernatural town just the same way you create a low-supernatural town, just the way we created this one: by regarding the NPCs with malice, doing terrible things to them, and having them do terrible (but understandable, but human) things to one another.

The demons don't have to be real in the game's setting. During town creation, you have to think like the demons, even if there are no such thing.

But then, in play, there are two things to consider, two sides to the question.

First, a sorcerer's dice and mechanical abilities, and a possessed person's too:

Check this out. A sorcerer's villain's dice and mechanical abilities, and a possessed person's accomplice's too.

When you give Roberts his dice, give him a sorcerer's dice and abilities, absolutely regardless whether you're playing a high-supernatural game, a low-supernatural game, or a zero-supernatural one. When you give Obedience and Marilla their dice, give them a possessed person's dice and abilities too. This is their desperation, their anger, their will to violence; it's the coldness in Obedience's heart and the jealous resentment in Marilla's.

Second (and at last we get to your question), supernatural special effects:

Whatever! It's all good.

With everything else in place, you can feel free to give the coldness in Obedience's heart, for instance, a vivid hyper-reality, or a symbolic manifestation, or its own creepy voice, if you want to. Make Roberts' guilt and self-justification into a thing, capable of touching the landscape of the game directly, visible and isolate, if you want to. You'd do it for artistic reasons: atmosphere and tone, emphasis, the inscrutable dictates of your taste and vision. Or you wouldn't do it, for the same.

We're playing Dogs right now, and we're playing with no supernatural special effects. Nevertheless, you can BET that when Brother Swanson is in a conflict, I roll 5d10 in on his side. He's a vicious bastard, is why, with a heart full of murder. The rulebook says "add the current Demonic Influence to his preferred side of any conflict ... by introducing demonic special effects into a See or Raise." In our game, a casual contempt for the Faith counts as a demonic special effect. In games I've played in the past, it wouldn't, I'd need to bring in shadows, voices, blood, empty hollows for eyes, elongated teeth, the smell of brimstone. Either way, it's really his viciousness, desperation, and murderous heart that give him those dice.

Make sense? What do you think?

-Vincent
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Simon C
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« Reply #22 on: October 13, 2009, 10:25:59 AM »

Yeah, I get it.

Maybe it's a bad habit on our part, but typically as soon as those 5d10 hit the table, we're like "oh, so you're the bad guy then?" Now it's possible that introducing a more complex situation for hate and murder will mitigate that.  Also we've tended to play like those demonic influence dice coming out is a big revelation, which I think is a mistake.  I think it'd be better (for our purposes at least, if not universally) to make the demonic possession pretty evident right away, so the players aren't all like *gasp*, and instead just treat it as one more aspect of the character.  Supernatural stuff could help with that.

I'm getting really excited to run my next town!
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lumpley
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« Reply #23 on: October 13, 2009, 10:45:08 AM »

Cool!

That reminds me. It's super easy to just write "the demons want what the cult wants." But you can use what the demons want to remind yourself how morally complex a town is:

The demons want the Dogs to execute Roberts in his sins, instead of fighting to redeem him.
The demons want the Dogs to convert Bethany just because she wants them to, without first attending to her past and her soul.
The demons want the Dogs to marry Jackson to Obedience, as though that will heal her.

This'll set you up as GM to respond provocatively when your players leap toward those simplistic solutions. They'll be like "5d10? Kill him! Kill him!" and you'll be like "it may be your imagination, but, like, his hand is shaking when he raises the gun."

-Vincent
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Paul T
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« Reply #24 on: October 14, 2009, 05:36:31 PM »

You know, oddly enough, this was real easy and clear when I ran a game of Dogs in a Star Wars universe.

Because the Demonic Influence was the Dark Side. And you can just tell when someone calls on the strength of the Dark Side, can't you? Their eyes go all grim, or they're overtaken with rage. But everyone knows they're still innocent people, at heart, just that they're using something beyond themselves because they're desperate or angry or hurt or in love.

Maybe what your Dogs game needs is a strong example of someone who's been possessed, or a sorcerer, and redeemed their way back to the Faith. Like Anakin/Vader does for the Star Wars-verse. Heck, maybe that should be in the book.

Great thread, by the way. Enjoyed it very much.

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argamemnon
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« Reply #25 on: October 18, 2009, 02:22:35 PM »

Whoa.

I bought the game today (waiting for it to hit my inbox), so I had obviously made up my mind that DITV was worth owning. But this thread and Vincent's involvement in walking Simon through town creation has me virtually frothing at the mouth to try the system out. The depth of storytelling options is astounding.

I am also really digging the idea that demons aren't scary for their spookiness so much as their desire to hurt and destroy. Wow. When I first started looking at reviews for the game, I got the impression that the Dogs might be complicated characters merely because they are self-righteous and above the law in a society that allows them to be such. Now I see that they actually have a valid role to play in their society, and they can choose to be a true champion of the faith or a tyrant. That is an "option" in a lot of other games, but you can see it float to the surface like cream in this setting and ruleset.

Whoa.

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Simon C
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« Reply #26 on: October 18, 2009, 10:28:06 PM »

I don't know about other people, but our game is intersting because the Dogs are both at the same time.  They're tyrants and murderers, and saviours and saints.  And the contradiction is getting more apparent with each town.

I hope you have fun with the game!
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